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Community Journalism: Digital and Social Media

Gain practical skills and insights into hyperlocal journalism, and use digital and social media to create your own news website.

32,299 enrolled on this course

Creating community news, photographing with a smartphone
  • Duration

    5 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

Community journalism is a growing area of interest for professional journalists, academics and the wider public. The decline of local newspapers and radio stations, coupled with the low cost of publishing online, means there are more community journalism and hyperlocal websites being launched everyday.

Launch your own community or hyperlocal site

Whether you want to launch and support your own site - or simply study this new media sector - this free online course will give you both useful insights and practical skills.

Community journalism is an area that combines elements of traditional journalism with the new opportunities brought about by digital and social media, so we’ll look at:

  • setting up a community website
  • exploring different forms of community – local, professional or personal
  • identifying and building an audience
  • creating content and establishing a workflow to sustain the site
  • using Wordpress, Twitter and Facebook
  • managing an online community
  • and abiding by media law and ethics.

Learn with the UK’s first community journalism centre

You’ll learn with the UK’s first academic Centre for Community Journalism, launched by Cardiff University in 2013 to help nurture and study this growing sector.

This will give you a broader understanding of the field and how it’s developed, as well as insights into the experiences of those already operating community sites.

Join other learners who’ve launched their own sites

This course first ran in April 2014 and many learners went on to start or improve their own hyperlocal sites, such as Cwmbran Life and EastGrinsteadOnline.

You can find out more about this course in Richard Sambrook’s blog post: “Community journalism: launch your own local news service.” Or read a review of this course by a learner at Class Central.

Download video: standard or HD

Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds Across Britain and around the world, the internet is allowing new forms of community journalism and hyperlocal websites to flourish. Often, these new services are in areas where traditional newspapers no longer exist. It’s an exciting new area of media development. I’m Richard Sambrook, Professor of Journalism here at Cardiff University, where we have a Centre for Community Journalism which studies and supports these new services. This course is going to look at why these services are growing up, what makes them successful, and how you can launch one of your own. Well, when the local paper goes, the danger is that the spirit of the community will go.

Skip to 0 minutes and 45 seconds You can’t do everything by word of mouth, even in a medium size community, in a small town, or a small part of the city. You need a quality of information, you need to know how to get it, you need to be able to get it quickly. Actually, hyperlocal sites are often speedier updating than newspapers were ever able to do. People more than ever want to know what’s going on close to them in their neighbourhoods, in their communities, and they’re saying repeatedly that this is the thing the media don’t provide for them. So the Brixton Bugle comes out monthly on the last Friday of the month, and we print 10,000 copies.

Skip to 1 minute and 25 seconds And the paper’s normally around 24, 28 pages, depending on advertising. The reason why we chose Britain as the patch for the blog and the Bugle is because by saying I live in the centre of Brixton, love it, and feel passionate about it, and felt that it needed to be better represented in the media and the people that lived here deserved a better provision of news than they were getting. I have absolutely no idea where all of this will be in 10 or 20 years’ time. It’s a field of massive experiment, creativity, and innovation, but I’m certain it will be one of the most exciting results of the internet age. It will be a revival of hyperlocal media and hyperlocal activism.

Skip to 2 minutes and 4 seconds This course will show you successful examples of community journalism, explain the theory behind this new sector, expand the skills you need to launch your own site, and introduce you to a network of people who can help support you in the future.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

Who is the course for?

This course is open to anyone with an interest in journalism or social and digital media, and in connecting their communities online. No prior qualifications are required.

We’ll cover core journalism principles, skills and practice as part of the course, as well as hands-on skills in creating and sustaining hyperlocal sites.

Practicing journalists or more experienced students will be particularly interested in learning about current developments in hyperlocal and community journalism in the digital environment.

Who will you learn with?

Richard Sambrook is Professor of Journalism and Director of the Centre for Journalism. He is a former Director of Global News at the BBC where he worked for 30 years.

Who developed the course?

Cardiff University

Cardiff University is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s leading research-intensive universities and is ranked within the top 150 universities in the world in the QS World University Rankings.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control

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